Love Ranch

26 Jul

Title: Love Ranch
Year: 2010
Director: Taylor Hackford
Writer: Mark Jacobson
Starring: Helen Mirren, Joe Pesci, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Bryan Cranston, Gina Gershon, Scout Taylor-Compton, Taryn Manning
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, pervasive language and some violence
Runtime: 117 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 5.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 13%

I thought this one was a huge disappointment, it wasn’t really that bad at all, but the subject matter had potential and having Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, both Academy Award winners, as the two leads plus Taylor Hackford, an Oscar winner himself, as the director had my expectations for this one at a pretty high level, and I read a couple of reviews for the one some three weeks ago, when this one originally came out, and people were hating on it quite a lot because of it being such a letdown considering the set-up and the players that had been gathered, I’m not such a fervent hater, I think this film can still be salvaged, if anything because of Dame Mirren, who’s always a joy to watch perform.

It sucks for Hackford that he wasn’t able to deliver in this one, yes, his Oscar win was for a short and was thirty years ago, but he was great at doing Ray six years ago, which got him an Oscar nod for directing and motion picture, so he’s a guy that can be good, but he simply was unable to get anything out of this juicy story, there could have been sexy stuff out of this one, could have been funny stuff out of this one, but there was nothing, it’s just a flat film and it never moves from there, it doesn’t get bad but it doesn’t get good either, and because of that it just feels horribly tiresome. As for the representation of the brothel life I think we have all seen enough films that tackle this subject to have at least some sort of idea as to how that can be done well, but the depiction of it shown in Love Ranch is just lathered in superficiality, a true carnival of clichés, and it’s a real pity, had this one been right it could have been seriously good.

Helen Mirren, as I said, is still pretty good in this one, that should provide some redemption right there, and Joe Pesci is pretty good himself, but the script is just seriously stale, maybe the story just wasn’t good enough, I actually think that may be the case, but the set-up, the life on one of the world’s most famous brothers (or at least that’s how it advertises itself) could have been told differently, in a more showy fashion and maybe the result would have been better, but then again to do that it would have had to stop relying on facts, and even when this one stops relying on facts the changes it pulls aren’t that great. It’s the story of a couple who were able to open the first legal brother in the state of Nevada, but then the film goes off-fact and creates an affair between the female owner and a heavyweight boxer when, in reality, what happened was that the boxer was shot by the male owner’s bodyguard, and the affair is told at times nicely, that’s true, but it’s never compelling.

The story is a completely manufactured telling of the truth, and it sucks really, but at least Mirren’s okay in it, though then what sucks even more is the thought that Mirren could have been great but just wasn’t given the material to be, the life of the real-life owner of the brothel had some complexities to it, her relationship with her mother, the nature of her marriage, all of those things could have been played to her advantage, but just weren’t, one would think that Mr. Hackford, who’s her husband, would have liked to see his wife shine as bright as we all know she can, yes, the character in real-life was a really reserved person, but he could have surely found a way to exploit all of the psychological and emotional depths this character had, and instead all we get is a script that doesn’t allow for any sort of profound exploration to happen, and we are just left with the very superficial, which does nobody any favors.

Grade: C+

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